Sadly, social justice for DREAMers <DREAMers are undocumented individuals who were brought into the United States as children. These individuals, adults and children, are able to remain in the United States through a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)> seems to be perpetually on the back burner as the U.S. Congress and the courts have yet to decide the fate of nearly 700,000 people like me, who were brought to the United States as children and whose immigration status remains tenuous. Hopefully, a new musical opening Off-Broadway in late March will not only entertain but also educate and perhaps inspire elected leaders to action.

¡Americano! The Musical will open in New York City beginning with its first preview on March 31st at New World Stages, next to Jersey Boys. The official Opening Night will be Thursday, April 21st. The musical is currently scheduled for a limited 12-week run through June 19. The musical is based on my life’s story. I learned about my immigration status just after my 18th birthday. My dream of joining the Marines and serving my country came to an end when I learned a hard truth my parents had kept from me.

I found a new way to serve my country. I became politically active. I was the first DREAMer to work at Phoenix City Hall and later worked to elect candidates committed to helping DREAMers find a path to citizenship. I played a key part in electing a Marine, Ruben Gallego, to the United States Congress.

My story made a few local headlines which inspired a group of dedicated individuals working with the Phoenix Theatre Company to give birth to ¡Americano! The Musical.

During its 2020 run in Phoenix, ¡Americano! broke box office records exposing the plight of DREAMers to nearly 10,000 theater patrons.

And now my story is headed Off-Broadway.

The New York cast was recently announced. Sean Ewing, whose Broadway credits include Amazing Grace and West Side Story (2009) will portray me. Other cast members include Legna Cedillo, Yassmin Alers, Johanna Carlisle-Zepeda, Joseph Paul Cavazos, and many other talented performers.

The original music for this production was written by Carrie Rodriguez, a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas who has performed on stages across North America and Europe, as well as on programs such as Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show, A Prairie Home Companion, and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.

¡Americano! is being produced in association with the respected Arizona-based Latino nonprofit community development organization Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC). Indeed, the March 31st opening is on the birthday of civil rights icon Cesar Chavez who helped inspire CPLC.

I believe that knowledge is power and as more people have knowledge about the plight of DREAMers who live under the threat of deportation, the more likely those in power will be motivated to act and do the right thing.

Will my curtain call ultimately be to raise my hand and take the oath of citizenship, or will I be forced to return to a country and place I’ve never known?

Imagine one day if ¡Americano! got nominated for a Tony Award but this Tony could not attend. That’s not a dream. It is a nightmare and a prospect for some one million people just like me. But I will always be a DREAMer, not just for me but for all of us.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Tony Valdovinos.

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